A long time ago.

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Light sabers

In a galaxy far, far away.

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DO or DO NOT. There is no TRY.

Darth Vader

No, I'm your father.


You don't know the power of the dark side.

The Force Awakens


X-Wing Fighter

Long live the Rebel Alliance.

June 16, 2012

Almost in love

Ever felt that the train of your life might be headed nowhere? You see the same stations everyday, the same nameless, faceless people getting in and out of your train,the same hustle-bustle around you.You sit by the window wondering when your station will arrive.But it never arrives,and the very next day,you are back on the same train again.And you wonder if you have taken the right train.

Rajiv was feeling the same thing.At 26,and standing in 2012,he realized his train was headed nowhere.He nervously paced the platform of his life,wondering whether the train he wanted would arrive soon.Trains whizzed by. And he stood there waiting.Fidgeting.Anxious that it may never arrive.

But it did!And it was exactly the train he wanted.

"Dude,this chic is bad news!" Suresh chirped,while popping a peanut into his mouth."She has had five boyfriends before you!And to top it all,she is not even that hot!!"

"Looks are not..",Rajiv started to reply.

"Stop giving me that shit!" Suresh interrupted,reaching for his glass of beer."You know how it is gonna be like.You are into her today.And one fine day..Poof!!..You won't be able to stand the sight of her anymore.The only reasonable reason for hooking up with a girl who has had five trial runs before you,is if she is incredibly hot!Which she is just undeniably not!!!"

"All I am saying is-I want to give this thing a chance," Rajiv protested,sipping on his beer."Let's see where our feelings take us.It need not be a happily ever after,but's worth risking.She is an amazing gal!"

"I should say," Suresh muttered."You are talking about a girl whose list of achievements consist of dumping five boyfriends.It's like she gets asked at the interview-where do you see yourself five years from now?And pat comes her reply-dumping five more losers.Starting with a gullible ass called Rajiv!"

"And with a friend like you,I wonder why I still don't have any girlfriends," Rajiv rolled his eyes.

"I am watching your back,son!" Suresh gulped down his beer and wiped his mouth."Preventing your love train from getting hit by the Heartbreak Express!"

"More like you are setting up my train to be stranded at Lonely-ville!" Rajiv grumbled,chugging down his beverage.
Two months later
"Look must you go back to Mumbai?" Rajiv asked in a pleading tone.

"My parents are there,Rajiv," Shruti said,raising her voice."They want me working in my hometown.Just like your folks want you to stay here in Kolkata!"

Rajiv looked away,without replying.After a moment of silence,he spoke testily,"Guess I am the sixth then."

"What?" Shruti asked with a questioning expression on her face.

"I am the sixth guy you are dumping!" Rajiv opened his arms wide in frustration."I should've figured.Guess hooking up and ditching a guy comes as easy to you as painting your nails or applying your lip-stick!Gawd!I can't believe I couldn't see this coming!!" He moved his hand through his hair in vexation and resentment.

"Rajiv,I did not say I want to break up with you,"Shruti cried out indignantly."I am just saying I am going back to Mumbai.We can still remain together!Many of my friends are in long-distance.And all the hoo-haa about it not working and's just that...hoo haa!My leaving Kolkata isn't going to change anything."

"Not change any..?"Rajiv howled."Look.Let's get real here,ok?Long-distance only works if both parties are chatterboxes who yap about even the color and texture of the aloo sabji they had for dinner.I am not much of a talker,ok?And neither are you!!We will soon run out of topics to phone talk on.And eventually,it will be just your cold ok now?Yesterday I came late from office...couldn't call you..And that's fine day,one of us is gonna update on FB that we are single again!!25 likes on your status from all the guys doting on you..and a couple of Sorry Bro's on mine."

"Rajiv,this thing is never gonna work if you go into it with such a half-hearted jerk-like attitude," Shruti shouted at her miffed boyfriend.

"Jerk?You calling me a jerk?This coming from someone who makes a virtual living out of ripping out hearts from her boyfriends?"Rajiv's annoyance was in full steam now.

"Are you even listening to yourself,Rajiv!!What?You smoked something?"

"You wanted the whole thing to end like this,right?" Rajiv shouted out his chagrin."I will date this guy till I get something in Mumbai.Then I'll pretend I still want this relationship to work.Guy will disagree.We break up.You get to tell everyone that Rajiv is such an ass.And no one puts any blame on you!!"

"Dude!!!!" Shruti's hands were on her head now,her eyes wide with disbelief."I think you need counselling.I never hid the fact that I had previous relationships.You said you were ok with it.And now you are acting like a kid who has just been denied his candy and wets his bed in response."

"That's right!!" Her boyfriend blared."Put the whole thing on me!You walk out on me.And the fault is all mine!!I will be the insensitive,immature dip-shit!I can almost hear you go-Ohh you know Shalu!I loved Rajiv.I really wanted it to work.But he was so fucking insecure!!!!!And so possessive!He couldn't even understand my commitment to my parents.He wanted to hog all of me."

"Ok,that's it!!" Shruti lost her patience."Get out of here!!!NOW!!"

"I am getting out of your life!!"Rajiv barked and slammed the door of her flat behind him.

At 2 am,that night,Shruti groggily got up at the sound of her phone's shrill ringtone.It was from Rajiv.
He wants to apologize?Now???!This had better be good!!Shruti grumbled to herself as she hit the Receive Call button.

"Shruti," Rajiv's voice sounded tensed."You gotta help me,please!!"

"Rajiv,what happened?" Shruti couldn't help feeling concerned.

"I am at a police station," Rajiv's anxious voice floated over the phone."They have detained us.I don't want to call my parents.Can you please come and get me out of here?"
A couple of hours later,Rajiv and Shruti were sitting in Shruti's car, outside a local hospital.
"Thanks for driving us here," Rajiv said,his eyes down,fixated on his shoes.

"Okkk,may I know just what happened here?" Shruti asked incredulously."I receive a call from my boyfriend..who by the way I  had a huge fight with the middle of the night!I have to whisk myself away to a police station.And I come to know there that you got into a drunken brawl with Suresh. You even busted his forehead..for which he had to receive ..what?? Five stitches?What the hell is going on,Rajiv?Why are you suddenly behaving like a kid just hitting puberty?"

"Suresh said some nasty stuff at the bar," Rajiv replied slowly ,in guilt mode."I was drunk.I got crazy.I hit him without warning.He started bleeding profusely.The bar manager immediately called the cops on us.And.... you know the rest."

"Wait?What?He said something nasty..and you lost your cool??!!!" Shruti's eyes seemed about to pop out in disbelief."You?Who always claims to be so mature and in control all the time?Fuck!!" Shruti clenched her steering wheel tightly and slammed her back against her seat."It just feels I've been wrong all along about you,Rajiv!!"

Rajiv just kept quiet and stared vacantly out of the car's window.After the customary admonishing about getting into fights and the cliched lecturing on the dipping values of today's youth were over,the cops hadn't wanted to detain them any longer.Besides,Suresh needed immediate medical attention. At that late hour,finding a conveyance became a pain.So Rajiv had called up Shruti.She had a car.It would prove useful in carrying Suresh to the hospital.Suresh was still inside the hospital.The doctor would examine his stitches one last time before letting him go.

"What did he say that got you so mad?" Shruti presently asked,breaking the spell of silence.

"It was nothing." Rajiv replied without looking at her.

"Tell me!!"

"I told you!!It's nothing."

"Look Rajiv," Shruti said testily."I drove all the way from my home 2 am in the night to get your ass out of this sticky mess.You owe me a better explanation than -it was nothing."

"He called you a whore,ok?" Rajiv replied,his eyes now facing her directly."He called you a fucking whore who topped even Draupadi in her whoredom.Draupadi just had five.You broke her record.Suresh said that.He was drunk.I was drunk.Something came over me and I hit him.That's it.That's your story.You happy now?"

It was Shruti's turn to be silent now.After a couple of minutes,she spoke,"Let's go to my place."

"What about Suresh?"

"It's already 4:15,Rajiv.He will be able to find something to get back home in half an hour or so.He can manage ,I think." Understandably,Shruti was in no mood to drive home a guy who had called her a whore.

"Ok.I will text him we are leaving then." And Rajiv fished out his mobile to punch a sms in it.

At Shruti's place,the two made tender love.Shruti suddenly realized how much she meant to Rajiv.For his having to hit his friend of ten years like that.As for Rajiv,he didn't realize anything new.The fact that he couldn't live without her had dawned on him way back anyway.

"Please,don't go," Rajiv pleaded with his eyes as Shruti nuzzled herself into his protective arms.

"Rajiv,I told you..." Shruti softly demurred.

"But,can't you just.."

"Rajiv,drop it.Let's not spoil this moment." Shruti said as she clutched his arm tightly.Amidst all the fondling,all the coddling and his grazing his nose against the nape of her neck, Rajiv couldn't help getting a sickening feeling in his stomach.This might be the last time they would be spending such tender times together.He would miss everything.Their cuddling on the sofa,their huddling on the carpeted floor;the nuzzling,the playing around,the rubbing,the squeezing,the stroking,the toying.Every thing.

Five weeks later,Rajiv opened his FB account to see Shruti's current city changed to Mumbai from Kolkata.She had moved out quietly and hadn't even informed him.Possibly to avoid a scene,he guessed.She had asked some time to be on her own.So for the last five weeks,they really hadn't caught up with each other much.From the way she seemed to end things,it didn't appear that a long-distance relationship was likely either.Suresh had been right.His love train lay derailed after all.

With associated heavy casualties.

Just then,there was a ring of the doorbell.Rajiv opened it to be pleasantly surprised to see Shruti standing outside.
"Shruti???I thought you were in Mumbai!!!" Rajiv stated with incredulous excitement.

"Mumbai?" Shruti asked surprised."Why on earth did you think that?You didn't think.I would at least tell you before I leave?"

"But your FB update?"

"What about it?"

"It says your current city is Mumbai."

"What?" Shruti blinked stupidly.

"Yep.Look." And Rajiv showed her the FB page.

"Ohh dear!!" Shruti shrieked."It must be my sis,Ruchi!! She has access to my account.This is her way of making me know she is seriously miffed at me.I gotta call her right away!!"

"Miffed?For what?"

"For not coming back to Mumbai,stupid!!"

"You are not going to Mumbai?" Rajiv almost jumped in delight.

"No!!" Shruti smiled."I rejected the job offer."

"That means you are staying right here??"

"Right here with you baby!!!" Shruti's eyes glittered with amusement.

Rajiv had done it.He had finally boarded the right train.And it was chugging away to its destination.Right on schedule!
~The End~

June 14, 2012

Hogwarts: Origins III

Ok.Recent development.I will probably have to do this series on my own now.Pretty tough,if you ask me.'Coz I am not into HP much.But whatever!!!Challenge Accepted!!!After Godric,ladies and gentlemen,I present to you Salazar!!! Have fun!!!
"I think she asked you to let her go," I said in a sombre tone. "Or else what,you monkey faced moron?" The man in a farmer's sweaty outfit challenged."You think you have what it takes to snatch her away from me?" The young girl in question turned her head,looking once at me and then at the man,a terrifed expression on her face.Barely twenty or so,she had unkempt red long hair,which,along with her soiled green dress,indicated that she hailed from humble origins.Even in her unadorned,ungroomed state,her narrow waist and slender neck added a touch of grace to her.Evidently,I was not the only one who had noticed she looked kind of pretty.The man in the sweaty outfit was sparing no effort at making the shy looking lass aware that she had caught his fancy.Needless to say,his methods were highly obnoxious. "Please let me go," the girl pleaded to the man.Sweaty Shirt had grabbed her by the wrist and didn't seem interested in letting her off anytime soon."My father is getting worried.He knows it shouldn't take so long for fecthing him some ale.I beseech you,good sir.Please allow me to leave." Her eyes were literally begging.She seemed to be on the verge of tears. "Oh,my lovely little girl," Sweaty Shirt smiled,exposing uneven yellow teeth and brought his mouth,stinking of alcohol,closer to her face."Your father should have known better than to send his pretty young flower to a tavern full of big,bad men like me.Let you go?The night is so young,Philistine.Don't I at least get a kiss for praising you so long?You made my throat dry." The man had been harassing her even before I walked into this tavern a couple of minutes ago.This had to stop.Now. "You heard Philistine,"I warned again,raising my voice slightly higher this time."Lay your sweaty paws off her." The man's eyes flared.He rolled up his sleeves to expose a set of burly forearms covered with hair so thick,that it looked almost dirty.But his hands were big and calloused.His broad shoulders and massive chest conveyed an air of imposing physicality."You think you are man enough to take me down,monkey-face?" He bellowed."You tiny rascal!I can snap you like a twig!" He wasn't very wrong in his assessment.My wiry frame was no match for this man built of solid muscle.I didn't have any weapon with me,except a small knife.It was sharp,yes,but he would be able to knock it off my skinny hands with just one blow. I chose not to respond and just stared coldly at his eyes. "You are such a puny little thing",the man gave his ugly yellow-toothed crooked grin again and pointed between his legs."I think the size of my manhood alone will dwarf your entire body to shame." By this time,a crowd had gathered around us.A fight was on the cards,and the population at this tavern could never get enough of brawls and scuffles.Several folks who already knew the man,cheered him on. "Go,Ivan!Show him how big you are!!" A man shouted. "Show this monkey what a real pole and stones look like,Ivan,"yelled another voice. I smiled. "Mine is bigger than yours," I declared,still holding his gaze. "Ha ha ha ha,"Ivan roared in laughter."So monkey-face has got a sense of humour." A couple of men who had gathered around us joined in the laughter too. "Why don't you just check down there and tell me?" My smile had become a smirk now,and my eyes bored into his. Ivan frowned and grabbed his trousers between his legs.His demeanour immediately turned to one of shock and horror. "What've you done,you puny imp??!!!" He howled in fright and absolute confusion."Where is it??!!Where is my..." The people around us suddenly stopped chattering and a curtain of silence fell over the tavern. "What, you mean this?" I brought out an object covered in sack cloth from my side-bag and held it on my palms. Ivan's eyes grew wide in panic.The crowd around was abuzz again. "Ivan,what's wrong?Your face has become whiter than your teeth,friend!" "Seen a ghost,my man?" Ivan was too stupefied to respond. I uncovered the sack cloth and Ivan could see his equipment staring back at him on my hand.I grinned maliciously.I couldn't help enjoying this!! "You think highly of this little friend of yours,do you not,Ivan?" I said slowly,relishing my every word."Let's cut it to size,shall we?" I then placed the thing on a nearby table,brought out my knife and proceeded to chop it into slices in front of its owner's very eyes. "Nooooooooooooooooo!!!!Nooooo!!!Noooooo!!!!!" Ivan screamed in agony and desperation."Let go of it!!Give it back!!" The crowd was laughing now. "Ivan seems to have lost it!" Someone else joked,"His mind?Or the other thing?" Ivan howled at those men,"You bastards!!!!!All this seems like a joke to you???This man is chopping it to pieces!!And you heartless oafs are laughing your heads off!!I can't believe you people!!" The men burst out in an uproar of amused frenzy. "We can't believe any of this either!!!Someone carry Ivan to his home!!He is having such a bad day!!" "Home?You sure his wife will take her man back?Without his manhood?" Ivan was perspiring now.His eyes had grown so wide in baffled dread that they seemed about to pop out.He begain to tear at his hair in desperation and hopelessness. "You know," I presently said."My pet is kind of famished.Do you mind if I feed it here,Ivan?" Ivan was now a sorry picture of dismay and puzzlement.He stared at me stupidly as I fished in my bag again. "Wait,what's that?" Ivan's panic shot several notches higher as he saw what I brought out. "Ohhh!!"I laughed."Say hello?To my little friend??!"I then hissed to the rattlesnake coiled around my hands now and it hissed back.I had given it a command and it obedinetly uncoiled itself from my hand and set forth to execute it.I crawled onto the table and started gobbling up the slices of Ivan's man-meat.It made quite a sight-the ingested pieces causing the snake's skin to stretch and slowly making their way down the snake's body.Down its throat,and into its stomach. "Well,what do you know?" I mocked,pointing my finger towards the feasting scene of my pet reptile."Your little friend...being gobbled up by mine.Told you,mine was bigger." The scene was too much to bear for Ivan.He started trembling,and shrieked in anguish,and subsequently passed out,his unconscious body slumping to the floor. "Come," I commanded Philistine to accompany me as I proceeded to move out of the tavern. She obeyed me as if she was in a trance.Once outside,I climbed onto my horse and motioned her to climb in behind me. "Where is your father?"I asked."I will take you to him." "Go north-east,"she somehow managed to mumble. Five minutes into the ride,Philistine finally mustered the courage to speak up."What was all that?Why did that man suddenly start acting like he was possessed?And who are you?" "What?" I smiled as I turned back slightly to face her."You saw everything unfold right before your eyes,did you not?" "All I saw was,that man suddenly started acting as if he had lost his....thing,"Philistine uttered,the words tumbling out of her mouth."And you were looking straight into his eyes all the time.Everyone was amazed at this sudden change coming over him.One moment,he was boasting about his size.And the next,he was screaming he had lost it.All the men there were whispering among themselves that you must be the devil.Tell me,who are you?" "Just a man,"I said as I tugged on the reins."What you saw there is a little something called Legilimency.Gives you the power to delve into and unhinge a person's mind." "Legilimency?" Unsurprisingly,Philistine had never heard this word before. "So while nothing really happened to our nice friend,Ivan there,he thought he had lost what he valued most.And while the crowd was just stunned seeing madness take over him,Ivan thought all of them are making fun of his situation.Everyone.Including his friends." "You can do that to a person?" Philistine asked in outright wonder. "With a little bit of magic,yes,"I said smugly. "So Ivan really thought he had lost it?" "Haha,"I let out a small laugh."He even thinks I chopped it up and fed it to my snake.Now you know why he passed out!!" "I can't believe this,"Philistine stated,trying hard to process everything I just said."This magic.Capable of driving a man insane like this." "Ohh,don't worry about Ivan,"I said dismissively."He will realize his toy is still intact the moment he needs to attend to nature's call." "The magic?It's temporary?" "You seem relieved,"I jibed,shoving a lock of my long hair away from my eyes."Concerned about that bully much?What?Did I butt in at the wrong time back there?When the two of you were sharing a tender,loving moment?" "I just don't want a man driven insane by dark magic,sir,"she protested."I beg your pardon.And I owe you my gratitude.You saved me from that brute." "That gratitude surely took a long time coming,"I peppered my tone with sarcasm,and then I said pointing to the side of the road,"There.Is that old man standing out there your father?" "Yes,thank you so much for taking so many pains on my behalf,good sir,"she replied,her tone considerably softer now."If you don't mind,sir,may I know your name?" "It's Slytherin," I said as I helped her unmount."Salazar Slytherin." As she was getting down,she accidentally knocked over my bag.As it fell to the soft grassy patch below,a live rattlesnake wiggled out of it. "Salazar,helppp!!!" Philistine yelped in fright and grabbed my shirt.Her father,seeing the snake,started running towards us too. "It's ok,"I said in a reassuring tone to her.I bent down and picked up the snake in my hand.It promptly coiled itself around my forearm.I started hissing to it as I gently caressed its smooth head. "That thing doesn't bite?" Philistine asked alarmed,taking two steps back as she did so. "Almost everything,"I smiled,without looking up.I hissed to my snake again,picked up my bag,and the snake slowly slithered back into it. "You talk to that thing?" She asked,her eyes wide with surprise. "Snakes and I have a connection,"I replied,as I mounted back on my horse.By this time,the father had reached our spot."Good day,both of you!" And I sped away on my steed.
After a short while,I could feel my snake crawl up my back and coil itself comfortable round my neck.

"Careful with your hug," I hissed in Parseltongue."You tend to overdo your affection sometimes."

"And I am to take affection lessons from you now?"The head of the snake uncoiled itself to face me, the eyes glowing red into mine and the tongue flickering."You saved that girl and couldn't even get a kiss.Pathetic!"
"Don't rub it in," I testily replied.
"Why did you suddenly put up the knight in shining armor act though?" My pet reptile hissed again."So unlike you.Considering you don't have a particular liking for muggles."

"I don't know.I guess I found her cute,"the corners of my lip curled upwards into a half-smile.
"And still no kissing!You are a disaster!" The snake hissed one last time and coiled its head back around my throat.
To be continued?
P.S. I kinda sorta need some help with Helga and Rowena.So if any of you want to be a good Samaritan and help me out with this,I will be most grateful.Anyways.Peace.Out!!

June 11, 2012

Hogwarts: Origins II

And folks,I am back again!!!!!!:-D Now before you read this part,lemme set some things straight.I haven't read a single HP book in my life!! So be a little gentle on me,pleaaazee,will ya? ;-) Ok.That's it from my side.Enjoy this adrenaline ride.I tried to make it fun.I at least tried.:-P
Zero Hour
The entire floor was crumbling.The pillars had weakened too and could not support the ceiling much longer.Huge cracks appeared almost instantaneously in the wall and the floor.
Lupin cried out in alarm,"Godric,we have to get out of here!!The roof will come crashing down any moment!"
The pillars had started to buckle,the stones in the floor started peeling away,disappearing from underneath us.The energy from the blast which had occurred a few moments earlier was slowly tearing up all the stones in the room,pulverizing them to fine dust.
I grabbed Lupin's shirt and made a run for the nearest window.
"Wait!!" Lupin's eyes grew wide in horror as we neared the window."What..What are you doing?We cannot go out of there!!!!!!"
I looked out of the window.We were several storeys up.There were tall trees in the vicinity of the tower we were in.But none of them was close enough to the window for us to make a jump for it.
"Bring out your broom!!" I bellowed to Lupin.
"Are you insane??!!" My companion's eyes seemed to pop out in disbelief."I don't have the magic required to fly it."
I glared at him.The floor around us was disappearing fast.
"We are both going to die," Lupin shrugged his shoulders in resignation and closed his eyes,his forehead furrowed in concentration,as he cast his summoning spell,"Accio!"
Seconds passed.Beads of perspiration popped out on Lupin's brow.The pillars and floors continued tearing themselves away.
"This is taking too much time," I muttered in frustration as I looked down the window.We seemed doomed to be buried alive amidst all the rubble.
Almost instantly,Lupin's sleek and shiny broomstick flew in and started floating outside the window.
"That was fast," I sneered,clutched Lupin's shirt collar and leaped for the broom.
"But I can't make it fly!!!" Lupin screamed.
My fingers of my right hand grasped the mahogany handle of Lupin's broom,while my left hand held on to Lupin.I am sure we made quite a sight.Me dangling by my arm from a floating broom and my companion hanging from my left arm,clutching on to it for dear life.
"See,the broom is still holding up," I smiled down at Lupin."Your magic is doing great!Now just make this damned stick fly,will you?"
Lupin stared up at me,his face a picture of dismay and horror."I told you,Godric,I CAN'T!"
The broom seemed to jerk up and down slightly as if on cue.I couldn't help having a sinking feeling in my stomach.And within a fraction of a second,we were hurtling downwards in a free-fall at a maddening speed. Lupin and I screamed our lungs out as we plunged into a collision course with certain death,a hundred feet below.
A day before,Morgana La Faye's lair
"And these gems will help you defeat Merlin and Arthur?" I asked Morgana skeptically.
"The gems of Cyttorak are Merlin's last line of defense against my dark magic," the dark haired,alabaster-skinned woman,seated across me, hissed."You and Lupin will retrieve them for me."
"Why Lupin?" I asked, a bit surprised."How many men does it take to steal a couple of gems?"
"Your arrogance never ceases to amaze me,Godric," Morgana sniggered."You have just been training with me for four months.Your magic isn't powerful enough for the task at hand.Yet."
"And Lupin's is?" I raised my eyebrows sardonically."That boy is just a little better than me with his spells."
"This matter is not open to discussion,Godric," she threw at me a cold stare."Tomorrow you two set forth for the tower where Merlin keeps his gems stashed away.You two really need to work together and watch each other's back.Merlin has a host of powerful beasts guarding his prized possession."
"Like what?"
"Have you heard about a mythical creature from Greek legends?," Morgana's eyes narrowed as her voice assumed an eiree timbre."Half-bull?Half-man?"
My jaw dropped."You mean the Minotaur?You mean,Merlin's magic can conjure...that?"
Thirty minutes before Zero Hour
The massively sinewed minotaur snarled as it saw us approaching the staircase it was guarding.Its bloodthirsty eyes followed our every move as we inched closer to the staircase which was to take us to the third storey of the Merlin tower.
"That thing is going to attack us any moment," Lupin warned.
"Quick,blind it," I ordered Lupin.
"What?" Lupin asked surprised.
"Pull your blinding spell.Hit his eyes.Now!!!" I barked in a raspy tone.The muscles in my shoulders tensed as Lupin chanted his spell.Seconds after Lupin completed uttering the spell,the monster staggered forward,aimlessly swinging its massive club in front of itself.The spell had worked!
"Bull's eye,Lupin," I turned briefly to congratulate my companion, before I unsheathed my sword and charged at the savage mythical mayhem.Hearing my fast footsteps on the cobbled floor,the blind Minotaur swung its deadly horns at me. I jumped back just in time to escape being pierced by them.Guessing where I might be,the bull-headed abomination immediately brought its spiked club down on me with massive force.I side-stepped, but not fast enough.One of the spikes punctured my trousers and lacerated the skin of my leg. I grit my teeth in pain and hacked at the Minotaur's knee with all my strength.The beast bellowed in anguish and I quickly slashed at its stomach.The 7 foot hulking creature slouched,momentarily paralyzed by the shock from the injury.Ignoring the burning in my leg,I dashed to the back of the savage brute and leaped on its back.Grabbing the Minotaur by its shoulder,I ran my sword through its throat.
The day before,Morgana La Faye's lair
"Anything else I should be worried about?" I asked Morgana,forcing a grin,trying to sound unperturbed at the mention of the Minotaur."Taking a  bull by its horns can't be that much of a problem,now can it?"

Truth was- I could already visualize the Minotaur snapping my body into two.

"My crystal ball tells me there is a giant carnivorous scorpion on the third storey," Morgana's lips curled up in a sarcastic sneer."But I am sure you will be able to squash that under your foot too,won't you Godric?"
"A giant....what?" I gulped.
Things just kept getting better and better.
Fifteen minutes before Zero Hour
Green slimy fluids oozed out of the gashes my sword had made in the mammoth scorpion's hairy body.The behemoth insect had a volume almost three times that of a mere human.I ducked and rolled to escape the clutches of its lobster like pincers which were sharp enough to crush a wooden pillar.From my crouched position,I looked up,trying to find a soft spot to attack in the monster's under-side.
Instead, to my horror,I saw its prodigious sting coming down on me like a falling oak tree.
"Watch out,Godric!!!!!" Lupin cried out in a horrified tone.Then he started chanting something which seemed to me like a "slowing down" spell.And sure enough,the scorpion's sting had its descent slowed down.The insect's movements became more sluggish.
I used my thighs to jump up as high as I could and grabbed its descending tail with both my arms.The tail swung,carrying me along with it.Both my feet were off the ground now and the distance between me and the stone floor increased as the scorpion moved its tail upwards and side-wards. I held my breath as the tail swung inwards towards the trunk of the monstrosity.As the colossal tail hovered above the immense insect's head,with me still hanging from it,I decided to seize the opportunity.I used all my might and weight to pull the sting downwards towards the scorpion's head,impaling it with its very own sting.
Morgana La Faye's lair
"And the gems will be on the fifth storey of the tower?" I questioned Morgana."So supposing we get past the minotaur and the scorpion,we just grab the gems and leave?"
"The gems should have a last line of defense protecting them," Morgana's forehead furrowed."But the gems' magic is blocking the magic of my crystal ball.I cannot tell you what you will face when you reach the gems.But I'm confident that crafty old Merlin will keep some ace up his sleeve."
"Looks like we have to find out on our own then," I remarked,more to myself,than to Morgana.
Five minutes before Zero Hour
"An acromantula??!!!!!She never said it would be a spider the size of an elephant!!!" I screamed in terrified frustration as we stared at the gigantic spider's shiny eyes.It had eight eyes arranged in three rows. The bottom row consisted of four small eyes, the middle row had two very large eyes, and the top row had two medium-sized eyes. I knew an acromantula depended on its excellent eyesight to hunt. They also possess an acute sense of touch.Which meant the vibration of every footstep I and Lupin took could be felt by the spider as if it were a minor earthquake.
"You reached this far for the stones," the spider roared."Impressive!Too bad it was all in vain.Your presence and your flesh will merely serve to satiate my hunger for tonight!"
A giant flesh-eating spider that talked,oh joy!!
"Lupin,I can see those stones up against that wall.Grab them!" I commanded.
Lupin inched slowly towards where the gem stones were kept and put them one by one into his bag,fearfully looking up at the spider every now and then.
"You amuse me,human," the acromantula growled."None of you are making it out of here alive.You might as well leave Merlin's stones where they are."
"Merlin sure has strange taste in pets," I commented sarcastically."Lupin,you got any spell to put this overgrown web-spinner in its place?"
The spider was covered in thick black hair, with a leg span that reached up to fifteen feet. I looked at its giant fangs and wondered, how many live animals or its own dead kin,those fangs had feasted on.
"There is the Cruciatus curse," Lupin replied,his face twisted in a paroxysm of fear."Causes immense pain.But I cannot summon it."
"What?Why?" I cried out incredulously.
"In order to summon it,I must possess a deep desire to cause the victim pain,"Lupin uttered,his voice now shaky."Morgana can do it.But I don't think I ever can."
"You are not qualified for this kind of job then," I muttered.
It was all upto me now.I took a deep breath and then I proceeded to summon the Local Earthquake spell as Morgana had taught us.An earthquake would send a vibration-sensitive acromantula into sensory overload,thus paralyzing it.
At least,that was the plan!
Just as my spell finished,the spider's pincers started producing a clicking sound.My spell seemed to be working!An acromantula's pincers click when the beast is agitated or excited.
The eight legs of the spider stood rooted to the floor as everything started jarring violently around us.Lupin quickly sprinted to by my side,the stones in his bag.
The entire floor was crumbling.The pillars had weakened too and could not support the ceiling much longer.Huge cracks appeared almost instantaneously in the wall and the floor.
Lupin cried out in alarm,"Godric,we have to get out of here!!The roof will come crashing down any moment!"
~~~ ~~~  ~~~~
"Make this cursed broom fly,you blasted fool," I cursed at Lupin as we hurtled downwards to our deaths at a break-neck speed.
"Wingardium Leviosa!!!!!!!" Lupin shouted his lungs out."If this doesn't work,we're dead!!!!!!!"
And just like magic,the broom stopped in mid-air.
Lupin had done it!!!!!I heaved a sigh of relief.I pulled him up by his shirt collar until his hands grasped the broom's handle too.
But our respite was short-lived.
The broom, instead of free-falling, now swooped downwards in an arc at an alarming velocity.We were already three storeys down.The ground was just two storeys away.The broom,however,seemed hell-bent on crash-landing us to the earth.
"We are going to diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!" Lupin howled.
"Mother,father,I love you!"I couldn't help shrieking myself."I am so sorry I could never get you the diamond necklace you always wanted,mother.Or the jewelled scabbard father always craved for!!"
"We should never have signed up for this!!!!" Lupid squealed as the broom sweeped closer to the ground,downwards and forward,its speed showing no signs of breaking.
The ground was just ten feet away.I decided to jump.I hit the ground hard and immediately started rolling forward to break the impact of my fall.My shirt tore.My torn leg started burning with excruciating
pain.My shoulders and arms bruised themselves too.
But I would live to fight another day!
As I pulled myself to my feet and dusted myself,I could see Lupin had landed several yards away.
I jogged to where he lay sprawled on the marshy ground.To my utter amazement,he was still breathing!
"Lupin,thank goodness!!" I smiled a smile of relief."You made it!What did you do?Your broom suddenly decided to spare your life,is it?"
"I cast a slowing down spell on it," Lupin smiled weakly. The same spell he had used against the scorpion!!He must have used it at the last moment to slow down the broom just enough to land without critically injuring himself.
"Well done,you cunning ass!!!!" I grinned widely as I extended my hand to Lupin."Here help yourself up."
"I think you'll have to carry me to the horses," Lupin grunted in pain as I pulled him up."I think I broke my leg."
Morgana's lair
"Phase one of our plan comes to a successful closure," Morgana purred satisfactorily."I am quite pleased with your performance,Godric.I think this little feat just made you move to the top of the class."
"My gratitude,Morgana," I answered."But I was curious.You have the gems in your possession.Now what?"
"Now we begin the next chapter of my plan," the sorceress smiled mysteriously."Merlin and my magic are roughly equal now.But only one hindrance remains."
"What's that?"
"I need someone who is a ParselMouth," Morgana summarily replied.
"Snake-tongue?" I asked, a bit taken aback."Why do you need that?"
"Because Merlin is one.He can command all snake like creatures with it.Giving him an advantage he can exploit strategically.And it is an ability I can never come to possess."
"Why so?" My curiosity grew.
"Only someone who shares Merlin's blood can be a ParselMouth," Morgana looked away from me as she uttered these words."As far as I know,Merlin is the only ParselMouth in existence." And she turned towards me again."But should fate choose to make us come across another,we have to seize the opportunity.Turn him or her into one of our own.Do you understand,Godric?"
"Good," Morgana's sphynx-like smile was back."With the gems of Cyttorak and a ParselMouth by my side,nothing can stand between me and Arthur's throne."
Her eyes flared wickedly as she hissed the final words,"Not even Merlin."

To be continued?

June 5, 2012

Hogwarts: Origins

Author's note: Trying my hand at a totally new genre.And I am not even a HP fan.Yeah,I know.Foolishly ambitious,right? :-) But have a read and then do tell me what you think.Your feedback is very much welcome.

The tavern was a place designed to turn men into sexual beasts.The new tavern girl,Leah,made sure that there was no dearth of libidinous patrons lusting for her presence.She was young and slender with long black hair.And today ,she was in a red dress that concealed her set of perfectly tapered legs.It was impossible to get her attention.She was surrounded by burly knights and soldiers.These were men who had fought gruesome wars,men who had butchered Saxon troops without remorse,crushed skulls even with their bare hands.And I was going in to grab her away from them.

Being the exception to the rule never came easy.

"Here," I asked a green-horn soldier who was standing in the gathering,"Clasp your hands together.You won't be able to open them anymore."

The soldier threw me a queer look,then shrugged and clasped his hands together.A mixture of awe and bafflement spread across his face as he discovered he couldn't separate them no matter how hard he tried.

"Markus,Daniel,help!" He shrieked."This bloke has cast a spell on me.My palms...he stuck them together!"

The commotion attracted the attention of the knights.Amused,they asked me to try the feat with their hammy fists.Instead,I made their swords vanish from their sheaths and then re-appear underneath the gowns of various bar-maids.A round of whistling and hollering ensued.Soon the bar-keeper was giving me free ale and the knights in closest proximity to Leah had halted their conversation and were gawking at me.Leah was no exception.

If you can make a girl envy you,you can make her fantasize about you.

For my coup de grace,I told the bar-keeper I would make several mugs of ale dance in the air.I approached the table where Leah and the knights were,asked to borrow their mugs,and made them float in the air.I even made a few flip in mid-air without spilling any of their contents.Now I was in my target's inner circle.I performed a few illusions for the men and ignored Leah for some time.Finally when I sensed she was about to leave due to being neglected,I relented.I started talking to her,and isolated her to a table nearby.I had used and manipulated the whole tavern population just to get close to her.

"Was all of it real?" She asked me apprehensively."Or do you really practice witchcraft and black magic?"

"Everything you've seen today is fake," I lied to her."I created all this to meet you.It's a social illusion."

We exchanged a few more words."When will we meet again?" She asked me with her shimmering coal-black eyes as I got up to leave."Promise me it shall happen."

"I can't promise you anything other than a good conversation," I smiled at her and turned towards the door.

However,on my way out,a knight from the table, where Leah was earlier, blocked my path.He wore a tight jacket upon which King Arthur's insignia was emblazoned.The Excalibur.Arthur's fabled sword.His tight jacket exposed a physique which made even my relatively sturdy frame look feminine in comparision.

"So you like Leah,magic man?" He asked.

"Leah.Yes.We're going to be seeing each other.I don't recall asking for your opinion about it."

"She belongs to me," the stupendous knight hollered."I want you to stay away from her."

"That's upto her," I replied,taking a step closer to the knight.I wasn't backing down.But then again,if you said I was just being an idiot,it would be hard to argue
I looked at his hands and wondered how many Saxon necks he had snapped in his day.The Goliath unsheathed his sword,brandishing it menacingly in front of my face.
"So,magic man,can you bend this?" This was no invitation;it was a threat.

Panic started beating heavily on the doors of my good judgement.Most of the men at this tavern were soldiers or outlaws with money on their heads.Killing someone over a girl was nothing for them.

But as I already stated,I was an idiot.

I waved my hand over the giant's forehead."You saw me move the mugs without touching it," I said."They weigh a few stones,don't you think?Now imagine what I could do to those tiny balls in your eyes." I snapped my fingers to indicate the popping out of his eyeballs.

My adversary looked me in the eyes to see if I was bluffing.I was.My magic wasn't anywhere near that strong.All the tricks I could perform were only because I had spent days practicing them.I only had a very limited control over my powers.But despite my misgivings, I held the knight's eye contact.
A heart-beat passed.
Two heart-beats.
Five.It was killing me.
The knight lowered his sword back.

I had the advantage here:these people hadn't seen a magician perform right in fron of them very often.They'd only heard folklore and legends.So when I disproved in an instant the belief that magic was just myth and fantasy,an older belief replaced it: the primal fear that just maybe magic is real.

I was almost out of the door unscathed when a deep voice growled from behind me."You tricky knave!Think it is so easy to fool us,do you?"

I spun around and was shocked to see the owner of that voice.It was Sir Tristan.One of the knights of Arthur's round table.The last person I expected to see at this shady place.

He threw a sword at me."Time to teach you some manners,boy!" Saying this,he grinned in a fashion which seemed almost diabolical.He was big chested,bald and with a strong square chin.And just an inch shorter than me.

I faced Tristan and shrugged. I assumed he wasn't much for talking things over anyway.Things were about to turn ugly.I wondered if I would make it out of this alive to feast on the roasted turkey my mother had prepared that day.

I raised the sword in response. He shifted into a defensive stance, ready to strike. He stood still watching me. And then in the blink of an eye, he jabbed his blade at me.I struck out quickly with short bursts not letting him find any break to attack me with.

Tristan's battle-hardened mind switched to fight mode. His blocks were pure instinct and automatic.

"Impressive.Blows strong and forceful.Movements fluid and graceful," Tristan commented on my fighting with a sardonic sneer."Looks like I am going to regret slicing that handsome face of yours."

"Yes," I replied with a matching sneer."Too bad I don't share the same feelings about your ugly one."

Tristan's eyes flared for a moment and he charged at me.Years of practice were evident with every strike of his, for they were filled with deadly accuracy.

He suddenly took a step back, catching me by surprise. He used that fraction of a second's hesitation in my form to strike.

He barely grazed my leg, leaving a cut in my tunic, but drawing no blood.

"I hope that isn't your favourite tunic," Tristan mocked again."Because when this gets over,your attire is going to have just blood and holes.Lots of it."

I leaped back and held my own. I watched him intent on finding his next move. I thrust forward in a moulinet -a move my father had taught me.It's basically a circular cut which caught the edge on his shirt, throwing him slightly off balance.

"Yes.How about I just parcel my things to your cleaner and tailor?He can fix my things along with yours.Your jacket won't be in any good shape either," I jibed and lunged my blade at Tristan.

He regained his balance fast enough to block my attack.

"You arrogant imbecile," he screamed as our metals clashed again.
Sparks were flying,metals were clanging,and the people at the tavern were having a free gladiator show .
Tristan stepped back again and for a few moments we circled, swords close to our faces, eyeing each other. Out of the corner of my eye,I could see Leah looking at the scene with a horrified expression on her face.

I immediately feinted to the left then quickly switched hands.I twisted and slashed at the knight's unprotected right side. Tristan grunted in pain as my blade had its first taste of blood.

He paused in a defensive stance, waiting for my next move. I scowled and threw my sword from one hand to another.

I stepped forward with one foot,my hand shot out and hit Tristan's sword in a cutover. The sword flew out of his hand and clanked to the ground.

"What's the matter,old man?" I smiled a smile of contempt,looking at the fallen sword."For your wife's sake,I hope that is the only sword you have difficulty holding up."

Tristan lunged at me with an incredible speed as I blocked with my sword arm. He used one arm to hold our deadlock and with the other he grabbed my free wrist. With a maniacal force,he used his weight to pull my whole body to the floor,and within moments he had me pinned to the ground, hands twisted behind my back and sword to my throat.

"I think I should just cut your tongue and lick my boot clean with it everyday," Tristan's voice,now raspy, breathed fury as he started applying further pressure on my hands,bringing his head close to mine.My nose was almost rubbing into the floor.

I quickly slid my free arm out. Ignoring the pain in my twisted arm,I brought up my elbow backwards in an arc and smashed it against Tristan's side face with all my might.

Tristan buckled from the surprise blow and let go of my arm.Without wasting a second,I grabbed a sword and stood above him.

Grinning, Tristan gestured his open palms to me in submission, "You sure you didn't apply any witchcraft to pull a win on me,boy?"

I held out a hand offering him my help. Truth be told,I still couldn't believe I had bested Sir Tristan.The whole thing felt too unreal.He grabbed my arm and was pulled to his feet. He picked up his sword and held out his hand for the one he had borrowed to me.I smiled and handed it back.

"Nice fight," Tristan commented. "You have excellent moves, who taught you?"

"My father, he taught me most of what I know," I replied.

"And the magic?" Sir Tristan asked amused."He taught that too?"

No that would be my mother,I thought.But I kept quiet.People didn't take too kindly to women who claimed to have magical powers.Both my parents have rudimentary acquaintance with magic.But they chose never to bring it out in the open.My father had earlier served as a knight in Arthur's army.Now they just wanted to lead a quiet idyllic life by the riverside.I had always been their wayward son.But I wasn't about to take their peaceful existence away from them.

"If I told you where I learnt magic,it would't remain so magical,would it now?" I jested."What's a magician without his bag of tricks?"

"Well said,boy," Tristan smiled affectionately."Well said.But,with sword skills like yours,you should be rubbing shoulders with us.Not picking up bar-maids with cheap parlour tricks."

"I don't have a particular pre-occupation with blood and holes," I smirked as I pointed to the tear in my tunic which Tristan had made a few moments ago.

"Ha ha ha," Tristan roared in laughter."Well,why don't you have that sent to my palace?We will fix it for you."

"My gratitude,Sir Tristan," I bowed slightly."Now if you will excuse me,I shall take my leave."

"Leaving without Leah?" Tristan teased again."Paris of Troy leaving without Helen?After all the trouble you went through?"

"No,I think Menelaus there will have difficulty finding another bar-maid to baby-sit him," I said,yanking my head towards the Goliath knight who had intercepted me earlier.He lowered his gaze as he saw me look towards him.

"Ohh.He is called Dior.One of my men.Don't worry.He won't have any problems.Would you Dior?" Tristan called out to the giant.The giant just kept his eyes to the floor.

"Let him keep her.I have options," I grunted.

"Arrogant.Brash.And so full of self-assurance," Tristan's eyes sparkled with warmth and sentiment."You remind me of myself at your own age.What's you name,boy?"

"Griffindor.Godric Griffindor.Well,it was nice jousting with you too,Sir," I tipped my head and left the place.

I was barely out of the place and then it happened.

The whole world around seemed to drown in blackness.It was as if an eclipsing cloud of darkness had descended on my little sphere of existence.It was supposed to be a sunny afternoon outside,and yet everything was pitch dark.I couldn't make out anything.Not even my own hands.

"What is this?" I cried out in alarm."What sort of magic?"

"The real one," a female voice hissed from somewhere.

"Who is that?" I began to panic.Fighting with a knight from the round table was enough adventure for one day.I didn't need this,whatever it was.

"You managed to impress me at the tavern," the voice was heard again."I might have use for someone like you.Now answer me wisely,boy.Do you really want to learn  magic? Or are you just satisfied with cheap parlor tricks?"

"Cheap parlour tricks?" I rolled my eyes indignantly.This was getting on my nerves."Cheap?First,Tristan.And now you!It took me several patient days of practice to master them,for crying out loud!!!How about paying a hard-working magician his due respect?"

"I see you cannot get out of the habit of flippantly uttering nonsense,eh?" The voice hissed again."I am about to give you the key to unlimited power.Mastery over wizardry and the forces that tie this universe.You're beginning to make me think that I chose wrongly the person to bestow my gifts on."

I had to admit.I did engage in inane verbal shenanigans to distract myself whenever I felt anxious and aroused.And being stuck in blinding darkness, when it should be broad daylight outside,is pretty arousing.And not in a good way.

"Look,why don't you just tell me who are you and show yourself?Talking to an invisible voice in a bubble of darkness is kind of...",I paused,"..disconcerting."

"Come to the east end of the riverside at midnight,and I shall reveal myself," the voice seemed to soften a bit."And should you choose...your destiny."

"Still not going to tell me who you are,are you?" I asked as a hint of resignation crept into my voice.

"Morgana La Faye,"and as these words were uttered, the voice slithered away and suddenly I was all alone on the road outside the tavern,the afternoon sun high over my head.

To be continued?

June 2, 2012

One day in my city

So Nikita from IndiBlogger challenged me to write a post on one day in Kolkata.This is for you Nikki!;-)
"Kumartuli has a 300 year old tradition that is unparalleled," I chirped to Nikita.

"Woaah! Jorasanko museum, the Indian Coffee House,the College street and now this!!Feels like I am caught in a time-warp today!!!" Nikita let out an excited smile as we strolled through the dingy alleys of ShovaBazar in North Kolkata.This is the place which houses Kumartuli and it's prized artisans.Home to the god and demon makers who sculpt all the idols which grace the pandals during Durga Pujas.
Gods and demons get born HERE!Durga,Kartik,Laxmi,Saraswati,the asura,the lion,everybody!

For the record,the Rabindra Bharti Museum, popularly known as “The Jorashanko Thakurbari” was the home of the Tagores. The "Ekla cholo re" and our national anthem composer breathed his first and breathed his last in this house. It was built in the 18th century by Prince Dwarkanath Tagore,Rabindranath Tagore's grandfather.Rabindranath and other luminaries of Bengal ,like Subashchandra Bose, were frequent visitors to the Indian Coffee House on College Street.The coffee house later became a meeting place for the poets, artistes, literati and people from the world of art and culture.And the location couldn't be more fitting.College Street houses two of the most prestigious educational institutes of India,Presidency and Calcutta University.
Inside the Jorashanko Tagore Palace!
The College Street Coffee House-been around since 1942.One of the heritage spots of our city.
College Street-a book lover's paradise.Sides of the streets are lined with  small booksellers' stalls.

"It's kind of a sleepy neighborhood," Nikita commented as she gingerly walked around and nervously took out her camera."Is it okay if I click some snaps?"

"Sure why not?" I merrily answered back. "And if someone tells you,you need some kinda membership card to click here,don't sweat it.That just translates as,gimme a quick 25 bucks to sip on some tea and munch on some singaras. And you can click till your batteries run out."

"Singaras?" Nikita threw me a questioning look.

"Samosas in Bengali," I quipped."When something gets popular here,we don't say it sells like hot cakes here.We say,it sells like hot singaras."

"He he," she flashed her pearly whites."Really?"

"No,I just made that up. But once we are out of here,remind me to buy you some,ok?"

Nikita smiled again as we moved around a bend, and landed up where the 'God' workshops were lined on either side of the road. We came upon a charming old house with idols of Ramkrishna and Sarada Maa perched by the side of it.

Nikita immediately took a picture."Who are these people?"

"Holy folks," I summarily replied."Kinda big down here.The bearded guy is Ramkrishna.Mentor to Vivekananda.And yep,Vivekananda is pretty big down here too."

"So Maa Durga isn't the only god worshiped here,huh?"

"Not a chance. We bongs make it a habit of scouting around for new folks to worship all the time."

We peeped into a workshop on our left.A man was sitting on a workbench and did not seem very keen to see us walking in.
"Should we go in," Nikita asked hesitantly."The guy kinda seems pissed."

"Flash him your cute smile,and Open Sesame!" I chimed.

She looked at me annoyed.I ignored her and called out to the guy in Bengali,"Dude!Can we see some sculptor in action here?Like actually giving shape to something?"
By the way,in Bengali,we don't say 'Dude'.We say 'Dada'.But you guys already knew that,right?

The 'dude' pointed gruffly to a guy nearby,who we couldn't spot earlier because he was working behind a shed.

 "Random trivia.There are more than 250 small and big sculptors in this whole area," I informed Nikita as we moved closer to the guy behind the shed.His name,we found out,was Mrinal.

Mrinal said he was  50 years of age and came to work here nearly 30 years back. He added এখানে ই আমার হাতে খড়ি(this is where I learnt work).

"Thirty years," Nikita exclaimed."Spent just sculpting?"

"Yeah,this guy is like the old testament," I jibed."And he has probably thirty more to go.Durga Pujas ain't going anywhere soon."

Mrinal was busy giving shape up to the সিংহ(Lion).Nikita jumped into snapping photos non-stop from various angles.

The Lion,the vahaan,of Devi Durga!

She wanted to know how long does it take to finish an idol from start to finish. Mrinal clarified that it really depends on the size and the design but generally something like the one he was working on could take up to 10 days to finish.  Multiple sculptors may be put to work on one idol, given their availability.

We then scooted to another work shop which seemed some what more elaborate than the previous one.It was one long dark alley lined with idols on each side. With artisan perched on ladders and work benches and hard at work even on a Sunday afternoon. My companion clicked some more pictures as we entered into the labyrinth.

After ambling around a bit more,we came out on the streets from the narrow lanes.There were teenagers there who had fancy cameras dangling around their necks, in their trendy attire. It made for quite a sight in this otherwise modest neighborhood.

"Guess we ain't the only shooters around," Nikita observed amused.

"I am pretty sure,you are the only shooter here with a degree in Biochem under her belt from the University of Toronto," I winked at her."By the way,they celebrate any sort of Durga Pujas in Canada?Any bong community or that sortofa thing?"

"You kidding me?Durga Puja and Bongs are everywhere,"she chirped enthusiastically.

The local youth who hung out at pan shops and tea stalls seemed unaffected by all the wannabe photographers thronging the locality. They must have been seeing this for a while. We decided to join some local folks at a nearby tea stall.

"This stuff is strong!" Nikita opined as she sipped on the strong reddish roadside tea.
Kolkata tea in an earthen cup,called a Bhaar.Strong stuff!!

"Yep.You need the boost.We will be headed to the Hooghly river now."


"A Ganges tributary beside our city.We will be taking a boat ride.But before that,we will have some singaras."

"I want some rasagullas," Nikita pouted.

"Kind of cliched,don't you think?Everyone coming down to Kolkata wants rasagullas.There are plenty of other sweet dishes around."

"Like what?"

"You totally need to dig those pearly teeth of yours into some sandesh,mishti-doi and cham chams.For the record,misthi-doi is sweet yogurt. And sandesh and cham cham you just have to find out for yourself."
We call this delicacy Karapaker Sandesh. One small nibble,and you will wonder why these sweets ain't made all over India.  
Mishti Doi!!And yup,we bongs have a fetish for the earthen  cups.
And this ladies and gentlemen is the Cham Cham!This stuff is so sweet,we even refer to people we love and adore as Cham Chams.#true story#

"And all this is gonna happen after the boat ride?" Nikita raised her eyebrows questioningly."It's already three thirty.I have to return to my guest-house."

"Trust me,you ain't gonna regret it.Also,there is the largest flower market in Eastern India right under the Howrah Bridge.The everyday-ness of it all, the heady mixture of scenes you encounter there and the photogenic marigolds.You and your camera will have a field-day there."

"OK.Anything you say,Mr.Biswas," Nikita smirked naughtily."Hope you will not take advantage of a girl from Toronto who is just here on a sight-seeing visit."

"Oh! I was thinking of ripping you off your Canadian dollars and leave you stranded in some strange lonely place," I joked back.

"I am trained in Krav-Manga," Nikita lifted her chin defiantly."I can totally kick your butt.Forget Canadian dollars.You won't even be able to rip off the chocolate dollar candies I have in my purse right now."

"Who needs dollar candies,anyway?I can totally have some Malpoa instead."

"What's that?"

"Why don't you try it out yourself?"
Chaanar Malpoa-Made from chaana,which is sweetened and finely ground  Indian Cottage Cheese.Yep,we bongs have a veritable sweet tooth to reckon with.#Ami sotti bolchi#
"Lemme guess.And that too will happen after the boat ride?"

"Definitely after the boat ride," I winked.
Vidyasagar Setu  is a bridge over the Hooghly River in West Bengal, India. It links the city of Howrah to its twin city of Kolkata.Don't tell me that you want to miss a boat ride in this delightful setting.

~The End~